Deluxe Paint 2 probably won’t mean anything to the majority of people reading this. It was a graphics and (very) basic animation program published by EA (yes the same EA!) which was bundled with my Amiga 500. Wowing* friends with my 10-frame animations, it was my gateway to almost everything I did professionally after. But, unlike John Carmack’s experience, my early Deluxe Paint animation career hit a wall of capability, creativity and 512k of RAM.
Adobe acquiring Figma for 50x revenue says as much about Adobe as it does Figma. But underneath the valuation story there is a broader picture emerging of tools, community, distribution and AI which are not just augmenting existing creative capability (e.g. Roblox Studio, Fortnite Creative, Unreal Engine, Unity) but now also generating creativity (Dall-E, Midjourney, Dreamstudio).
I took a spread of creator tools across Augmentors (Roblox Studio, Fortnite Creative and Unreal Engine) and Generators (Dall-E, Midjourney). This is somewhat arbitrary based on Google Trends’ 5 factor limitation so plenty of room for selection improvement (thoughts welcome):
I’m generally more interested in these behaviors across Gen Z (16-25). A better proxy for this tends to be YouTube search trends, which shows a materially different pattern:
There are probably a few reasons for this divergence including inspiration (game creation is still more stimulating than ‘art’), monetization (Roblox Studio) and aspiration (Augmentors are career vectors, Generators are not yet). But it’s very clear the future will have both more (lower barriers to creation) and more sophisticated (output capability) creators.
I don’t see Augmentors and Generators as fundamentally competitive to each other. It seems clear they end up converging over time, resulting in unimaginably powerful tools which only require literacy for output. Now these will be worth 50x revenues.
Augmentor and Creator tools are enablers of content. Joost Van Dreunen published this image a few hours ago which reminds me that demand factors are also at work here.
*I believe the exact reaction was closer to “this looks incredibly shit, why are you so excited about it?”